Chicken, Kale, and Gnocchi Soup

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Someone asked me this week about my favorite type of food to cook. I quickly replied: “Soups!”  Of course, I love to cook many things, but this is my answer because there are so many wonderful, nutritious soups, often the main course of a meal. Most are very inexpensive per serving. I like trying new recipes, too. This one definitely belongs in Kitchen Keepers. I used fresh mini potato gnocchi found at Costco.  Make your own if you if the time, but these were perfect for the recipe. Is there any prettier soup on the table for a cold Christmastime evening?  The hearty, creamy goodness was just what we needed.

 

Chicken, Kale, and Gnocchi Soup

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups half-and-half
1 (12-ounce) package gnocchi*
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1 cup diced cooked chicken breast
2 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth (if you enjoy thick soup, use just 1 can)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh kale (original recipe used spinach, but I have kale in my garden!)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (optional)

*You can find dried gnocchi in the pasta section of most grocery stores; some stores also sell fresh or frozen gnocchi. You may want to cut your gnocchi in half before cooking if it is large, or purchase the mini size if available.

Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and sauté until the onion becomes translucent. Whisk in the flour to make a roux. Let the flour mixture cook for about a minute and then stir in the half-and-half.

2. Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, add the carrots and chicken to the roux. Once the mixture has thickened, stir in the chicken broth. When the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasonings; simmer the soup over medium-low heat until it is heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt if needed.

Zucchini Onion Pie

IMG_2701Summertime vegetables are best when cooked simply. Even though I prefer not to heat up the kitchen with baking, this veggie pie is a great one dish meal, delicious with a crisp salad for supper.  I like adding some color with slices of red pepper from our garden.

Zucchini Onion Pie

3 eggs

1 cup flaked or grated parmesan cheese

1 cup cooking oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 cups thinly sliced zuchinni

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup biscuit mix ( I used Cheddar Bay biscuit mix and loved it)

In a large bowl, whisk the first seven ingredients. Stir in the zucchini, baking mix and onion. Pour into a greased 9-in. deep-dish pie plate. Bake at 350° for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned.Yield: 6 servings.

Mary Ann’s Oriental Ambrosia with Celery Seed Dressing

The ingredients for this recipe are too colorful to skip a photo this time. So I borrow this similar photo from Flickr user Ben Brown. Ingredients shown vary slightly from my recipe.

Oriental AmbrosiaToday is the first day of Spring and although I am still pretty much house bound I am watching the greening of our garden from my window, planning seed planting for someone else to do, and thinking of delicious salads we have enjoyed in the past.  This shrimp salad is a wonderful addition to your Easter buffet, and delicious for light meals through Spring and all summer long.  I first made it over 40 years ago when I was introduced to the flavor combination by a friend.

Mary Ann’s Oriental Shrimp Ambrosia

2 cups of peeled, cleaned, and cooked shrimp (fresh is best, but frozen works well)

1/2 cup toasted cashews

1 cup pineapple tidbits, drained

1 cup mandarin oranges, drained

1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained

4 cup torn romaine or butter lettuce

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1/4 cup chopped green peopper

1/4 cup coconut flakes

Place torn lettuce in large bowl.  Combine other ingredients and place on top. Serve with following dressing. If you prefer, set each ingredient out in a separate bowl and let those at your table choose and mix their own.  However, tossing everything together results in a beautiful, tasty combination!

Celery Seed Dressing

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated onion

1 cup salad oil

1 teaspoon celery seed

Combine first 4 ingredients in blender and mix. Add 1 cup oil gradually, until mixture thickens.  Add celery seed.

Barbecue Flapjacks

I am not cooking at all since my injury and repair of a ruptured Achilles tendon.  This does not mean we are going hungry because many kind friends are bringing us meals. I will take this “off” time to post some old recipes, family favorites in years past. No photos to go with them, but why don’t you try some of these and send me a photo of your results?

My mother, Opal Teal, sent me a recipe card on which she had written this recipe. I treasure the card with her handwriting. We had this often when our sons were “growing boys.”

Barbecue Flapjacks

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. barbecue sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
dash Tabasco sauce
1 can refrigerated baking powder biscuits (12 biscuits).
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

In large skillet, brown ground beef and onions  Add barbecue sauce, brown sugar and Tabasco.. Set aside.

Separate biscuit dough into 12 biscuits. Place one biscuit in each of 12 ungreased muffin cups pressing dough up sides to edge of cup. Spoon meat mixture into cups. Sprinkle each with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Baked Antipasto Ring

IMG_1815There are so many recipes that use crescent roll dough as the ingredient which makes the recipe both quick and delicious. This antipasto ring is simple enough to make for supper on a busy night and just right  for an appetizer for guests. Everyone loves antipasto, and you can stuff this pastry with a variety of antipasto ingredients.

Baked Antipasto Ring

2 cans crescent roll dough (I like to use Immaculate Baking Company’s product

1/2  cup well drained roasted red bell peppers, about 4 pieces

8 slices provolone cheese, halved

1/4 pound sliced peppered salami

1/4 pound prosciutto

1/4 pound sliced deli ham

pickled yellow hot pepper rings

1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped

optional:  sliced black or kalamata olives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Unroll both cans of dough; separate into 8 rectangles. On ungreased 12-inch pizza pan, arrange rectangles in ring so short sides of rectangles form a circle in center. (Dough will overlap and part of the ends will hang over edge of pan. Dough ring should resemble a sun.)

Spread roasted red bell peppers towards center of ring on bottom halves of rectangles. Top with half of the cheese. Layer salami, ham and prosciutto slices over cheese. Arrange pepper rings over top. Sprinkle with olives if desired. Cover with remaining half of cheese.

Bring each dough rectangle hanging over side of pan up over stacked filling, tucking dough under bottom layer of dough to secure it. Repeat around sandwich until entire filling is enclosed. Sprinkle with black peppe and chopped fresh rosemary. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before slicing.

Mushroom Stroganoff

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I have made a variety of Beef Stroganoff recipes over the years.  In fact, it is one of the first recipes I remember trying early in my marriage that seemed fancy when I was cooking for guests. I think that although it became popular in the U.S. in the 1950’s, until I made it the first time I had never eaten it before and loved it from first taste. Our family has always loved buttered noodles as a side; we like mushrooms, so I am not sure why I never just left out the meat.  But I tried this recently and it will be my favorite way to make Stroganoff now.  It also has the benefit of being much simpler to prepare and fairly low in calories, if not carbs!

Granmary’s Mushroom Stroganoff

2 Tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp  flour

2 cups chicken stock

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon tomato paste (I keep a tube of tomato paste in the refrigerator for recipes which only need a small amount.)

16 ounces sliced baby Bella mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (I use Penzey’s French Thyme)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons white wine or sherry

2 Tablespoons sour cream

8 ounces uncooked thick, yolkless egg noodles:

Optional:  parsley and shaved Parmesan for topping
Bring a pot of water to boil, add 2 teaspoons salt, then add noodles.  Cook according to package directions, minus a minute or two.  Under-cooking them allows for adding to the sauce to finish cooking. Drain noodles in colander and set aside until sauce is ready.

While heating water and cooking noodles, in  a large saucier or skillet, melt butter and add onions. . Cook 2 – 3 minutes, then add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon for about 30 seconds. Then gradually add chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste, stirring to keep mixture smooth as it begins to thicken. Keep stirring and add mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir continuously, simmering for at least 5 minutes or until thickened and bubbling.

Add flour; stir with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds. Gradually add broth, Worcestershire, mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir and cook 4-5 minutes or until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly.  Add wine or sherry, stir, and continue cooking for 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and noodles. Garnish with parsley and shaved Parmesan if desired.

Stuffed Garden Peppers

IMG_0735If you think ground meat and rice stuffing when you think of stuffed peppers, these peppers will surprise you.  Typically, a savory stuffing with some variation of beef and rice is stuffed into green Bell peppers before baking. For this version, I wanted to use Gypsy peppers from our garden.  They are only slightly spicy, and can be eaten when they are pale green, or, as here, brilliant shades of orange and red. They are smaller than most of the sweet peppers we get, and can be stuffed whole, or cut in half and filled for appetizer portions. I used a combination of goat cheese, garlic, and herbs, also from our garden..

Garden Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese

6 small red and orange sweet peppers (packaged mini peppers will do if peppers don’t grow in your garden!)

8 ounces goat cheese

2 cloves of garlic, diced

6 large basil leaves, chopped

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

olive oil

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash peppers and pat dry before slicing off stem end and removing seeds. In baking dish, pour enough olive oil to spread over bottom of pan. Add peppers, turning to coat and spreading olive oil inside and out with your fingers.  Mix cheese and herbs with salt and pepper to taste, then use a small spoon to stuff into peppers. Add a sprinkle of sea salt over top of peppers.  Bake for 15 or 20 minutes, or until peppers are fork tender. This is a wonderful light supper when served with a salad, but is also a beautiful addition to grilled meats..

 

 

Quiche Lorraine

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This pan of quiche may not look as good as it tastes here due to my blurry picture, but trust me, it is delicious.  This dish is wonderful for brunch, lunch, or supper and pretty on the plate with some asparagus spears and fresh fruit.  It is just as good with bacon subbed for the ham. If you, manage to have any leftover slices can be reheated in the microwave but I prefer to reheat in the oven.  The crust stays crispier.

Quiche Lorraine

6 ounces grated Swiss cheese

2 Tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups half and half cream

4 eggs, slightly beaten

8 slices thinly sliced ham from the Deli, chopped  or  1 1/2 cups leftover baked ham, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell (I use Pillsbury refrigerated crust or make my own)

nutmeg, for sprinkling on top of quiche

Toss grated cheese with flour.  Add cream, eggs, ham, and seasoning; mix well.  Pour into pie crust, dust lightly with nutmeg,   and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set.  Serves 8. Substituting  crumbled bacon (8 cooked slices) for the ham works well.

 

 

 

Mushroom Quiche

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Quiche is one of those versatile dishes that can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Add to that the fact that ingredients can be swapped out in any number of combinations. The base recipe is milk, cheese, and eggs.  Add your choice of chopped vegetables and/or a variety of meat or seafood.  Make your own crust or use a prepared pie crust. Substitute some or all of the milk with half and half or even heavy cream.

Mushroom Quiche

1 refrigerated pie crust (half of 15-ounce package)

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

5 cups sliced sliced mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas)

1/2 cup chopped onion

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg plus a pinch for topping

1 teaspoon dried thyme  (I use Penzey’s French Thyme)

1 1/2 cups grated Swiss or Fontina cheese (about 7 ounces)

preparation

Preheat oven to 450°F. Unroll crust completely. Press firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch deep-dish pyrex pie dish. Bake until light golden brown, pressing on sides of crust with back of spoon if crust begins to slide down sides of dish, about 17 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Melt butter in heavy skillet.  Add mushrooms; sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until mushrooms are tender and beginning to brown.

Whisk eggs,, milk,  salt,  pepper, and nutmeg in large bowl to blend. Stir in 1 cup Fontina cheese and sautéed mushrooms, reserving remainder. Pour filling into crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the filling and dust with nutmeg.

Bake until  golden brown, and set in center, about 45 minutes. Cool for a few minutes, then cut into wedges.

 

 

Sausage and Cheese Squares

001There are so many ways to use this rustic tart – serve it as a hearty breakfast, along with a salad for lunch, or paired with a cup of hot soup for supper on a cold night. Cut in smaller portions and turn it into party fare!  Using refrigerated Crescent Roll dough keeps it simple.  Use the ground sausage of your choice:  chorizo or Italian sausage are our favorites.

Sausage and Cheese Squares
2 cans refrigerated crescent dinner rolls 
1 lb  bulk pork sausage
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
Heat oven to 375°F.
 Unroll 1 can of dough into 2 long rectangles. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
Cook sausage over medium heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink.  To same skillet, add cream cheese. Cook over low heat until cheese is melted. Spoon evenly over crust.
 Unroll second can of dough on work surface. Press to form 13×9-inch rectangle; firmly press perforations to seal. Carefully place over sausage and cheese mixture.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Cut into squares.